When the Washington Nationals signed Adam LaRoche after the 2010 season, he was coming off his first career 100-RBI season, and the move was widely praised because of LaRoche’s track record as a player.
LaRoche is probably one of the most consistent player of his generation as he averages a .264/.337/.474 slash line with 26 home runs and 90 RBIs. He has hit less than 10 home runs once in his career, and has hit 20 or more home runs in eight years of his 10-year career. LaRoche is always known as a stellar defender, and has earned, in the eyes of some Nationals writers, the title as the best defensive first baseman in team history.
LaRoche is such a consistent and solid player it’s actually pretty shocking to see that he has played for five different teams and never seems to get more than two guaranteed years on the open market.
If you know LaRoche’s stance, then it may not be as surprising. The one knock on LaRoche is that his stance is really all arms, hands and wrists. He stands basically straight up in the box, and once he starts to decline as a player, he probably will not be able to generate enough power because of the lack of legs in his stance.
Sure, every hitter uses their legs in some capacity, but the issue with LaRoche is that he does not use them enough. This season was an example of that, as LaRoche seemed to take a step back after a 33-home run, 100-RBI season in 2012, and is poised to finish with a .237/.332/.403 slash line with 20 home runs and 62 RBIs.
This would mark LaRoche’s lowest RBI mark since his rookie season, and it matches his second-lowest home run total if he does not hit another one. With that in mind, could LaRoche be the first domino to fall in Washington’s presumably busy offseason?
Now, by no means am I implying Washington should or is going to blow up the team, but there are changes that they can make. LaRoche provided a lot of balance to Washington’s lineup upon arrival, but with the emergence of Bryce Harper and the presumed availability of Robinson Cano this offseason, Washington could look to move in a different direction.
LaRoche has a year left on his contract with a mutual option for a third year on the deal, so for all intents and purposes, LaRoche could be providing a team another two years or production, and he cannot possibly be this bad again. LaRoche suffered from a down year, just like every other player on the team.
When looking at moves that Washington can make, LaRoche jumps out at you because of all the moves they can make after freeing up first base. The key will be if they want to gamble on LaRoche bouncing back, or if they feel as though it’s time to move on. Either way, it will be fascinating to watch.